We take it for granted that we are able to sacrifice ourselves to help others, and yet we are familiar with the argument that these good acts are really done for selfish reasons to make the do-gooder feel good. The scientific and philosophical arguments in the modern period against altruism are, even, more difficult to rebut than the frustrating popular snub above. For example, a whole book was written by the zoologist Richard Dawkins that attempts to explain all life in terms of The Selfish Gene. It’s hard to believe that this book is now 40 years old.
So enter David Sloane Wilson, who courageously undertook the task, on biological grounds, of giving an affirmative answer to the question posed in his book title Is Altruism Possible? He is co-founder and President of the Evolution Institute. The Institute “uses evolutionary science to solve real world problems.” In his book he describes how current evolution studies have shown that at the level of groups, the “natural selection” process of evolution selects the best cooperators, not the best competitors (the Prosocial Movement). He uses biology, secular-scientific faith, and functional group action as the lens through which he examines, re-interprets and applies altruism with the ultimate goal of fostering planetary altruism.
The first issue of the e-magazine Convergence, produced by Unity.Earth and The Interspiritual Network, presents papers from a roundtable on Wilson’s book. Herman Greene’s paper “David Sloan Wilson’s Evolved Biology and Its Meaning for Human Sociality and Morality,” is included in this issue along with articles by Elizabet Sahtouris, Matthew Fox, and 10 others. David Sloan Wilson introduces the issue and also gives a synopsis of his book.